Volume 85 (2010) Issue 2 Pages 147-155
Genetic diversity estimation of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene may be an important tool in the assessment of immune response ability against infectious disease. We were able to identify a near full-length expressed DQB sequence by RACE-PCR method from the Asiatic black bear, Ursus thibetanus in Japan. This is the first such full length expression in the Ursidae. The bear had at least one functional DQB locus. In phylogenetic tree analysis its DQB amino acid sequence formed a monophyletic group with DQB sequences from members of the order Carnivora and had a 90% nucleotide sequence similarity with the DQB allele of the California sea lion, Zalophus californianus. We compared the DQB amino acid composition of U. thibetanus with those of several other mammalian species including Homo sapiens. Amino acid residues known to be functionally important for human MHC genes, tended to be also conserved among other mammalian species while PBRs in the β1 domain were heterogeneous among mammalian species. The DQB sequence obtained from the bear had not only no putative frameshifts or deletions but also no abnormal amino acid mutations such as had been observed in human DQB molecules. This suggests that the bear DQB sequence was an apparently functional DQB allele. As a preliminary study, we sequenced the exon 2 region of DQB alleles from genomic DNA, and succeeded to amplify the exon 2 of DQB loci. Our study will provide useful information for conservation genetics of the U. thibetanus as well as more generally regarding the mammalian MHC region.